The DeHavilland Blog

Thursday, June 29, 2006

STEM education is in the house

STEM education is in the house – or at least it was in the Rayburn House Office Building on Tuesday night, when Tapping America’s Potential (TAP) held a math and science fair to introduce legislators, staffers, eduwonks and other interested parties to the education outreach efforts of its 15 coalition members and a handful of others.

I received an invitation to the event and just happened to be in DC that day, so I was happy to have the opportunity to attend. It’s a great idea to host events like these to garner exposure among legislators: while I don’t claim to be savvy about the ways in government works, I do understand that politics has to play a major role in trying to fix a system that is 90% owned by local/state/federal governments.

All the usual suspects were there: Intel, IBM, Raytheon, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments, and many others. What’s interesting about this group is that, in addition to some very strong efforts put forth by individual companies, they’re working together (under the TAP banner) to raise awareness, gather and disseminate research (such as public opinion data), and push for legislative change.

This is a classic coalition model: banding together to fight for common interests without diluting or compromising the efforts of individual coalition members (for another successful coalition, take a look at the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Education).

However, it would be nice to see them open the doors to a larger base: with the exception of one organization (Dana Egreczky’s Business Coalition for Educational Excellence), every organization exhibiting there was either a Fortune 500 company or, as in the case of a handful of nonprofits, was entirely bankrolled by one.

Stephen Jordan of the US Chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center has highlighted the fact that 90% of education partnerships occur at the local level. I hope that TAP gives serious thought to becoming more inclusive of smaller national, regional, and local companies – the much larger base of coalition members would surely not only be more influential politically, but also more effective in sharing information and driving public awareness.


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